Edward Tyson

Edward Tyson (1650–August 1, 1708) was born at Clevedon, in Somerset. He obtained a BA from Oxford in 1670, a MA from Oxford in 1673, and a MD from Cambridge in 1677. In 1684 he was appointed physician and governor to the Bethlem Hospital in London (the first mental hospital in Britain). He is credited with changing the hospital from a zoo of sorts, to a place intended to help the inmates.

Tyson is regarded as the founder of comparative anatomy, which compares the anatomy between species. In 1680, he discovered that porpoises are mammals.

In 1698, he dissected a chimpanzee and the result was the book, Orang-Outang, sive Homo Sylvestris: or, the Anatomy of a Pygmie Compared with that of a Monkey, an Ape, and a Man. In this book he came to the conclusion that the chimpanzee has more in common with man than with monkeys, particularly with respect to the brain. This work was republished in 1894, with an introduction by Bertram C. A. Windle that includes a short biography of Edward Tyson.


  • John Gribbin The Scientists (2002)

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